2007   AUGUST 31   #243

Pat Campbell - Just A Quiet Conversation

01 Silent Worship (3:43)
02 Giddy Up Go (3:43)
03 Mother Went A Walkin' (2:43)
04 Big Railroad Man (4:48)
05 Deck Of Cards (3:54)
06 The Last Goodbye (2:56)
07 It's You (2:47)
08 I Think I Can Sleep Tonight (3:01)
09 The Gun (3:12)
10 The Mission (3:30)
11 The Late Arrival (2:53)
12 The Deal (3:35)
13 The Upper Room (3:32)
14 Trouble in Amen Corner (2:48)

Aah Pat Campbell. I first encountered this gentle voice of Irish country when he was featured on Kenny Everett's World's Worst Record Show in 1977 with The Deal. Sadly not about drugs as you might think it's the mawkish story of how a father-to-be makes a 'deal' with the good Lord to take his life instead of that of his wife or his unborn child when he hears bad news in the delivery room at the city hospital. I love the way he says his wife and child mean the whole world and everything to him, and I also like the way he says of his unborn child "I caught myself a little chuckle and thought – hey, it might be an old girl." Surely he means a baby girl. If his wife gives birth to an old girl then that's some deal he made!

Amazingly this single just scraped short of the British Top 30 in 1969 and was popular enough to spawn this album the following year. Prepare yourself for more Steel pedal guitar-fuelled death rants and tear-jerkers.

Pat had been a member of Irish vocal group The Four Ramblers with Val Doonican but the group split up when Val went solo in the late 1950s. Pat later found found fame as a disc jockey on Radio Luxembourg and championed American C&W hits. These included Red Sovine's legendary trucker narrative Giddy Up Go and so impressed was Pat that, when he signed his own deal with Phil Soloman's short-lived Major Minor Records in 1968, he seems to turned himself into Ireland's answer to Red Sovine.

I love Pat's 'voices'. There the urgent, nervous one he adopts on the organ-driven It's You (probably my fave track) where he sounds like he's about to have a nervous breakdown. Then there's his 'little tyke's' voice he does on the truly nauseating (and confusing) Big Railroad Man. The Mission sees him potentially in spaghetti-western mode with tales of cowboys in San Antone, but you know as soon as he mentions "the smiling padre" that someone's gonna get a bullet in the bonce. But for me the worst track is The Last Goodbye where his wife dies in a car crash but comes back to see him one last time. This features what is possibly the worst lyric in song writing history "I didn't look up, I just nodded okay and asked her to pass me an ashtray."

The sleeve text reveals: "Pat Campbell was born in Ireland, but it might just as well have been Nashville. He's been there many times and he's welcomed as a friend by the biggest names in the world of country music. On each visit he brings a little piece of Nashville home with him, but also leaves a little of Pat Campbell there in return."

In 1968, before he made these recordings, Pat was invited to narrate a couple of the tracks on the album The Power and The Glory by label-mate keyboard player Mike Mercardo, who was better known as 'The Swinging Monk' (I kid you not!). These are more religious in tone and feature strings and gospel-pop vocals by the ubiquitous Mike Sammes Singers although strangely very little piano. I have included these two tracks here as a bonus.

- Contributed by: David Noades

Images: Just A Quiet Conversation (Cover)

Media: Album
Label: Major Minor
Catalogue: MCP5051
Credits: Produced by Tommy Scott, Musical direction by Nicky Welsh.
Date: 1970